What does instructional design look like? Post #7 – Connecting across Distance

This is the 7th in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the other posts here.

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The first item on our agenda was to iron out details about the grading scheme and assignment category setups to make sure that they would function as Anne was expecting. We found that Canvas grading schemes work very well with traditional percentage ‘buckets’. Below is an example of percentage buckets, however please note these were not used for Anne’s course:

  • Papers = 20%
  • Exams (3) = 60%
  • Participation = 20%

However, faculty who are interested in offering extra credit, the opportunity to drop the lowest grade in a category, or any other adjustment that would not necessarily apply to the full class will not find this functionality within the Canvas gradebook. In these instances we suggest faculty use an outside tool for grade calculations. (DLINQ staff are happy to consult on this topic.)

The team also continued to discuss a weekly communication plan and Anne decided that using announcements would work well. Rather than preparing weekly communications ahead of time, Anne would prepare a template and would write the contents of the message as the course proceeded. Anne felt that this would provide the most flexibility which would be helpful since it will be her first time teaching this course. The team agreed that being able to respond to unexpected inquiries and questions in the weekly announcements would be the best experience for the students and would increase the effectiveness of this modality. Canvas would still allow us to set up multiple announcement messages ahead of time (based on the template) that could be adjusted (but not need to be created) on a week by week basis.

In the next week the team planned to collaborate on a Zoom testing session that would allow Anne to test out different functionalities that she hoped to use as a part of her synchronous sessions. Heather planned to incorporate the outline for this testing plan into a template that is being designed to help structure the development of hybrid course spaces. Some of the items to test included:

What does instructional design look like? Post #6 — The evolution of roles in project collaboration

This is the 6th in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the other posts here.

Photo by Kelly Sikkemaon Unsplash

At this point in the course development process the instructional designer role (Heather) had shifted to providing more general guidance and support while the faculty member (Anne) focused more intently on loading content into the Canvas course site. As such, Heather adjusted to follow the faculty member’s lead in terms of when the pair meant face-to-face via Zoom and what work took place asynchronously via email. 

Anne shared some grade scheme adjustments that needed to be made that the Heather planned to add to the course site after a few clarifying questions were answered. Questions had to do with how participation grades would be calculated on a weekly basis to clarify what items would be graded in Canvas vs. what items would be manually entered in the Canvas gradebook. View more information about how the Canvas gradebook works here.

In addition, Heather suggested coming up with a weekly communications plan that could actually be drafted prior to the start of the class. This concept had been discussed earlier in the development process, but the more extensive content creation provided a better mechanism for following through on this topic. The intention of the weekly communication would be to set up and reinforce the weekly course structure outlined in Canvas to try to avoid any confusion that might surface as the class schedule filled with assignments.

Anne also expressed a need to share assignment details much earlier than originally planned to help the students put all the pieces together — which resulted in some content reorganization. The faculty member was very comfortable with Canvas and completed all of the content edits for the week. Heather found that her time was being spent in a more advisory/clarification role at this point in the process vs. at the start of the project when design skills were most regularly used.

Moving forward the team anticipated meeting on a face-to-face basis more sparingly as needed and increasing the frequency of email or asynchronous communications moving forward so that we could use our time most efficiency.

What does instructional design look like? Post #5 – Utilizing Expertise in a Variety of Ways

This is the 5th in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the other posts here.

Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash

This meeting occurred after the winter break so Anne had added a lot of materials to the course Canvas site which allowed me to review the sequencing and organization and provide feedback. My suggestions included adding sub headings to the modules page to delineate different groupings of activities and readings within each week. In addition, links to readings were embedded directly in the module page in addition to being embedded in a weekly overview page to both provide students with context for the readings and enable them to access them with fewer clicks in return viewings of the material.

Getting familiar with Zoom

The team also discussed scheduling a Zoom testing session to allow Anne to test out different functionalities in Zoom that would be used during the weekly in-person meetings including breakout rooms and screen sharing. The testing session was scheduled with members of the DLINQ team.

Video editing assistance

Lastly, we discussed Anne’s request to have assistance with video editing from a member of the DLINQ team. This request was submitted to the DLINQ leadership team for review and was approved. Heather suggested that the faculty member discuss captioning options with the media specialist to determine the best and most efficient workflow. 

Working with the Library

Lastly, Anne found her collaborative work with the library essential to helping her to put together readings for her students. Staff members were able to help her determine the best way to provide access to materials available in the collection.

What does instructional design look like? Post 4 – Creating a Pattern & Flow for the Course

This is the 4th in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the other posts here.

Photo by Eduardo Olszewski on Unsplash

Prior to this meeting the instructional designer reviewed the contents of module 2 and put together a listing of ideas for how the content could be conveyed. The agenda for meeting 4 included:

  1. Overall questions
    1. Consideration of a “flow for the week” (see details below)
    2. What is the grading structure for the course?
    3. How do you assess participation? (I wrote a blog post inspired by this discussion here.)
    4. Plan for synchronous meeting sessions 
    5. Zoom room link details for incorporation in Canvas site
  2. Check in on Module 1 Progress
  3. Discuss Module 2

This week’s discussion focused on the importance of creating a repeatable weekly course structure or flow that students can use to plan their time. We settled on the outline below:

  • Sunday – new module content (for week after the current week) is released and previous module assignments are due by 11:59 pm (not including discussion activities)
  • Sunday, Monday & Tuesday – Complete module reading and initial discussion prompt
  • Wednesday – Complete responses to online discussions
  • Thursday – Synchronous session online (via Zoom) from 4 – 6 pm
  • Friday & Saturday – Complete assignments to be submitted by 11:59pm Sunday evening.

This information was included on a page titled “About this Course” in the Canvas site under the heading “Structure and Time Commitment”. The professor was also able to share the grading scheme prior to the meeting which allowed me to incorporate this information into the About the Course page as well as create assignment groups to correspond with the different grading category percentages.

It was determined that the synchronous sessions would provide a time when the faculty member could address various topics in a more flexible format that would allow her to adjust and respond to student feedback that occurs earlier in the week through discussion forums, activities, and entrance tickets. The team also formalized the integration of the Zoom room into the Canvas site and discussed setting up a test scenario during j-term that would allow the faculty member to practice using breakout rooms and other Zoom room functionality.

Course content was not yet ready to share so the team decided to focus their work on getting as much of the course structure and repeatable components in place prior to the end of the year so that content could be loaded into the course relatively easily. This shifted the heavier time burden from the end of the year to the beginning of the year. After looking at my projected future workload, I explained that I would still be available to support Anne but since time was budgeted to be more heavily used in 2018, I could not ensure that other priorities might come online at the start of 2019. This conversation highlighted the importance of planning, time-lining, consistent communication, and expectation-setting when working collaboratively on course development projects. In the end, workload did not pose any problems moving forward, but given the unpredictability of each semester – it was important to have this conversation early so there were no surprises.

Anne planned out extensive curriculum development and loading over the course of the month of January and meeting times were set and confirmed. No outstanding action items were set for Heather as most of the outstanding work was to collect course content before additional design work could begin.

What does instructional design look like? Post 3 – Starting to build

This is the 3rd in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the other posts here.

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Prior to the meeting Professor Anne Campbell was able to share an outline for the course which broke out course content into weekly modules with different content focuses. Based on this information I focused on pulling apart module 1 and trying to reconfigure the content using online learning components. This resulted in a group of ideas and questions that would serve as the focus of meeting 3. The agenda for meeting 3 was:

I.    Overall course questions

  1. When should modules be unlocked/viewable?Two weeks in advance of assignment dates.
  2. Are texts online or hard copy? – Both
  3. Home page view options – Learn more here. We decided to use the pages home page option with a link to weekly module format
  4. Academic honesty guidelines- We created an academic honesty quiz with references to policies at the institute. The Academic Integrity Tutorial is another option designed for Middlebury College undergraduate students.
  5. Support available to students – we built pages for library and technical support into the Canvas template for the course.
  6. Communication plan – we began to brainstorm a communication plan that used a set pattern from week to week

II.     Build Out Brainstorm of Module 1

  1. Heather shared ideas and solicited feedback about potential design

During the conversation the concept of entrance and exit tickets came up as a way to manage both formative and summative assessment based on weekly activities. We also discussed having assignments and activities build on one another so that students are given opportunities to refine their ideas and work in the course as they learn more.

Action items for the next meeting included:

  • Adding a introduction discussion forum to week 1 (Heather)
  • Add support materials to Canvas site (Heather)
  • Adjust reveal timing of modules (Heather)
  • Begin designing quest activity (Heather)
  • Collect and share course content (Anne)

What does instructional design look like? (WDIDLL) – Episode 2 – Digging in

This is the 2nd in a series of blog posts outlining the collaborative process of designing an online course for the first time from scratch. You can read the first post here.

Meeting 2

Since we had not met for a month meeting two was a bit of a review session where Anne and I went back over course details and Anne outlined some items that had been worked out a bit more. She explained that she was still working with other professors to finalize the curriculum and readings. Since the course was going to be cross listed, this meant that more professors would need to be consulted.

We also discussed how the time limitations of the course (1/2 of a semester) might impact the depth and complexity of the activities that could be assigned. We decided that the best place to start would be an outline of how Anne would teach the course if she were teaching it in person. That would serve as our starting point to build from.

Action steps for the next meeting included:

  • Creating a Canvas course shell – Heather
  • Creating a course outline for how this course would be taught in person – Anne
  • Finalize goals and objectives – Anne

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What does instructional design look like?

In this new series of posts I’ll give an overview of what instructional design looks like in process. Over the course of the 2018 – 2019 academic year I partnered with Professor Anne Campbell a faculty member in Monterey who was interested in designing a 2 credit cross-listed class titled “Data Interpretation and Presentation.” The course was cross-listed between international education management and DPPG and ran the second half of the spring semester of 2019.

This project was the first experience for both Anne and I in working collaboratively on developing an online course. Over the course of the development period we came up with a number of structures that can be reproduced to guide the development of future online development cycles. In this series of posts I’ll share what occurred at each weekly meeting, tools that we created to help guide our development, and things we learned along the way.

Meeting 1

During the initial meeting we discussed the general concept of the course including topics such as how online curriculum is viewed by other faculty members, who is the intended audience for the course, what curriculum currently existed for the course (none), and what curricular need the course intended to address.

We also discussed the pedagogy for the course which would focus on a project-based component as well as the overall timeline for development and deployment of the course. The ideal launch date was determined to be mid-March and at that point we set to work identifying what the weekly workload amount would be based on that timeline and how that would impact the design of the course. Components such as synchronous and asynchronous time commitments were discussed. Our draft timeline is below.

We set up a weekly meeting time to commence in a month after Anne had completed some outside commitments.

Timeline/Checklist – Launch Date – 3/25

What?Timeline –
complete in
Goals/Objectives identifiedNovember

Readings & course texts identifiedNovember
Determine # and grouping of modulesNovember
Grading scheme set & addedNovember
Determine structure of course/home pageNovember
Design student feedback mechanism & scheduleDecember
Design a communication plan (announcements,
social media, email, )
List, schedule & plan synchronous sessionsDecember

Copyright/Fair Use review completeDecember

Activities identifiedDecember
Assessments identified December
Start sequencing of activities, assessments & communications planDecember

Embed support materials into course and integrate into communication planDecember

Review alignment of activities & assessments to course goals/objectives December

Complete sequencing of activities, assessments & communications planJanuary

Complete build out of activities & assessments in CanvasJanuary

Testing of course contentFebruary 18th start**

Set up open office hours & sign upsFebruary

Modifications to content & retestingFebruary

Introduce yourself – discussion board – make it creativeMarch – 2 weeks prior

Final checkMarch – 2 weeks prior

Video/warm welcome March – 1 week prior